When I was a kid, goofing off was easy. Summer meant long stretches of absolutely nothing to do. Sun-washed days meant running through the sprinkler, inventing stories in our makeshift forts, riding bikes around town, and releasing tufts of cattails by the lake.
It’s Hard to Goof Off as a Parent
Goofing off was easy to do. Partly it was easy because we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t even have cable TV. In my sleepy farm town, television amounted to four stations and truly only good TV shows on Friday and Saturday nights.
Now as an adult, I find myself in the summer season with complete permission to goof off. Yet, I’m not very good at it. During the whole school year I long for the summer as my little pocket of wonder, but I find it difficult to let go of the need to be productive.
Have you ever had people warn you that with a classical education your kids will soon become wiser than you? I discovered that this week when my fourteen-year-old son looked me in the eye and said, “School has stopped, but you have not.” He was right. I was keeping a pace that needed a reality check.
“Goof Off First”
I once heard Andrew Kern from the CiRCE Institute give this advice, “Goof off first.”
Usually, as a parent, I preach the opposite. My handy expression is “When the work is done, the fun’s begun.”
For me, I think not being able to goof off is about fear. In my mind, goofing off equates to laziness. Perhaps I’m worried that if we allow our schedules and productivity to wane, we will lose all the good learning that we have stocked away this school year. Somehow, goofing off in my mind means discounting all the hard work.
With that in mind, I have been practicing goofing off lately. Instead of reading an academic non-fiction book, I picked up Anne of Green Gables. Somehow I missed reading that book as a kid and have loved getting lost in a great story. I have been taking long walks without an eye on my watch. Yesterday, I played tennis with my son and his friend—something I would never do. I’m trying to be more in the moment, to notice the colors of the season, to be mindful of the everyday beauty. Goofing off may be one of the kindest thing we can do for ourselves.
Treasure the Summer Season
In the book Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison, she includes a quote by Saint Augustine that says, “People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
Summer takes us to many lovely places on vacation—beaches, mountains, lakes, forests, and rivers. But I love the reminder that Saint Augustine gives, reminding us to wonder. I think that is the secret to treasuring the season. Wherever summer takes us, it’s life-giving to rest in the pauses and take in the beauty of our surroundings. But more importantly, my hope is that the slowing down season becomes a place to wonder about ourselves and our God who created us.
Take time to wonder and goof off this summer. You need it. Your kids need it. The God who made you longs for you to rest in Him.
This post was written by Cara Mclaughan, a Classical Conversations parent, in 2016. You can listen to the original article here:
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